Barrier Reef Realty
Information About Belize
Belize (formerly British Honduras until the name of the country was changed in 1973) lies on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded on the north and part of the west by Mexico, and on the south and the remainder of the west by Guatemala. The inner coastal waters are shallow and are sheltered by a line of coral reefs, dotted with islets called 'cayes', extending almost the entire length of the country.
There is a low coastal plain, much of it covered with mangrove swamp, but the land rises gradually towards the interior. The Maya Mountains and the Cockscomb Range form the backbone of the southern half of the country, the highest point being Doyle's Delight (1124 meters above sea level) in the Cockscomb Range. The Cayo District in the west includes the Mountain Pine Ridge, ranging from 305 to around 914 meters above sea level. The northern districts contain considerable areas of tableland. There are many rivers, some of them navigable for short distances by shallow-draught vessels. A large part of the mainland is forest.
The area of the mainland and cayes is 8,867 square miles. The country's greatest length from north to south is 280 kilometers and its greatest width is 109 kilometers. The climate is subtropical, tempered by trade winds. Temperatures in coastal districts range from about 10 °C (50°F) to about 35.6°C (96°F); inland the range is greater. Rainfall varies from an average of 1,295 millimeters in the north to 4,445 millimeters in the extreme south. The dry season usually extends from February to May and there is sometimes a dry spell in August.
Today Belize's population is estimated to be at approximately 273,700. The country is a melting pot of many races and over the years the muliti-racial make-up has risen through the influx of many people of Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Males outnumber the female population only by 1%.
The population census shows that the main ethnic groups: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi, Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifuna and East Indian maintains a large percent of Belize's population. Other ethnic groups: German and Dutch Mennonites, Chinese, Arabs and Africans accounts for a small percentage of the population. The ethnic groups, however, are heavily intermixed.
English is the official language of Belize. However, English Creole is widely spoken and remains a distinctive part of everyday conversations for most Belizeans. Spanish is also common and is taught in primary and secondary schools in order to further develop bi-lingualism.
Belize achieved full independence on September 21, 1981. It is now a member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Nonaligned Movement, the Organization of American States and the newly-formed Association of Caribbean States. Diplomatic relations have been established with many countries. Belize is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and related institutions.
The Government of Belize is operated on the principles of Parliamentary Democracy based on the Westminster System. The country is a sovereign, democratic state.
The financial system is comprised of the Central Bank of Belize and a number of financial institutions.
The Central Bank of Belize was established pursuant to the Central Bank Act of 1982, the Bank Act. The Central Bank has a statutory obligation under the Bank Act to foster monetary stability and promote credit and exchange conditions conducive to economic growth within the context of the government's economic policy. The Bank Act provides the Central Bank with the statutory authority for regulating the activities of the Belizean banking system.
Besides the Central of Belize, the Belizean financial system was composed of 58 financial institutions as at March 31, 2002, and these included:<br /></p>
- five commercial banks;
- four offshore banks;
- one government-owned development bank (the DFC);fifteen credit unions;
- three building societies;
- seventeen insurance companies;
- one government-owned savings bank;
- one government-owned small farmers and business bank;
- and eleven money exchange.
The currency unit is the Belize dollar (Bz.$). The Belize dollar has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of Bz.$2.00 to U.S.$1.00 since May 1976.
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